It’s true that we live in the age of Kickstarter. While many have taken a more cynical view, arguing that Kickstarter is just another word for “preorder”, I still feel that it has done a great deal of good for the world. Without Kickstarter, we wouldn’t have ambitious projects like Shadowrun Returns or colossal undertakings such as Kingdom Death. Games are a serious financial undertaking, so fundraising websites have lately become a huge part of their creation when it comes to indie design studios.
Even more interesting (to me, anyhow) are the literary undertakings posed by various social fundraising sites. Multi-author projects, solitary novel crafting, various works of art–all funded by amateur philanthropists who want to see the creator’s shining moment of triumph almost as much as he or she does. One such project that I’ve had the enjoyment of taking part in was Book Riot‘s recent sequel: Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors, Volume 2.
Picking up where the first tome left off, Start Here strives to essentially talk you into reading one author or another. 25 have been chosen, and several Book Riot contributors offer up an explanation of the writer’s greatness, including a list of books to start with. And in a world where there are just too many amazing novels, it’s a pretty great idea to have a reference to help get you through one prolific author and into the next. The first volume covered such greats as David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, Arthur Miller, and Charles Dickens, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw other such luminaries on Volume 2’s list: William Faulkner, George Orwell–even Roald Dahl.
Start Here Volume 2 is a quick read, which makes a lot of sense. If the purpose is to introduce readers to great writers, there’s not a lot of reason to keep them from it, is there? Regardless, Book Riot has chosen some terrific staff members to bring us up to speed. Each entry is passionate, focused, and often funny. I know how difficult it can be to rein it in when you’re talking about a favorite author, so it says a lot about Book Riot’s collective that they can take the time to show that they really give a damn without cluttering their explanation with purple prose.
If I had any difficulties with this book, it came from the selection of authors. Isaac Asimov, Dorothy Parker, and Flannery O’Connor make perfect sense to me. Each has left the world an amazing body of work to study and discuss until the end of time. But when I ran into people like Dave Eggers, David Mitchell and John Green, I took pause. Not to suggest that I don’t respect and/or enjoy these writers. Far from it. But each one struck me as being far from finished with the literary world. Not to suggest that each entry for a collection like this one has to be a posthumous one. Stephen King, for example, is still actively writing. But his body of work has already taken a recognizable series of arcs–ups, downs, lefts, and rights. His life has undergone a colossal amount of change, as has his writing. John Green, on the other hand, entered the literary world less than a decade ago, and while he is clearly a writer to be respected and read, I believe that Book Riot runs the risk of dating this volume prematurely his inclusion and the inclusion of other such young authors.
Such minor grievances aside, though, this is a terrific example of the sort of literary novelty that Kickstarter and other social fundraising sites can bring us. It’s thoughtful, precise, and quite a bit of fun to read. I highly recommend both Volumes 1 and 2 of Start Here to writers, readers, and anyone who felt like they were missing out on something in the world of literature.